I have highlighted many Delaware decisions addressing issues related to pro hac vice motions on these pages over the last 17 years or so, such as the standards for the admission of a non-Delaware lawyer pro hac vice to represent a party in pending Delaware litigation. Some of the decisions I have highlighted involve efforts to revoke the admission after the motion is granted. See, e.g., several of those decisions highlighted on these pages.

The most comprehensive resource on this nuanced Delaware topic that this writer has seen are seminar materials from Judge Andrea Rocanelli, a Delaware trial judge for 12 years who, after 12 years on the bench, in 2021 began offering ADR services such as mediation, arbitration and neutral evaluation for complex cases. Prior to her judicial service, she was the Chief Disciplinary Counsel for the Delaware Supreme Court: in charge of enforcing legal ethics among members of the Delaware Bar.

Those materials, dated from about 2006 to 2008 and linked below with the permission of Her Honor, include unreported decisions (which most readers know can be cited in Delaware briefs), as well as unpublished findings of the arm of the Delaware Supreme Court that decides attorney misconduct cases.

An article I co-authored also provides a compilation of selected key Delaware court decisions, rules, and customs to guide out-of-state attorneys admitted to practice in Delaware pro hac vice (PHV), and that article was recently updated in a post on these pages.

An appeal currently pending before the Delaware Supreme Court may provide more authoritative guidance on the issues addressed in this short blog post, to the extent Delaware’s High Court rules on whether it was proper for a trial court to revoke the PHV admission of a non-Delaware lawyer based on that attorney’s conduct outside of Delaware–and not directly related to the Delaware case in which the lawyer had been admitted PHV. See Page v. Oath Inc., C.A. No. S20C-07-030 CAK (Del. Super., Jan. 11, 2021).

The seminar materials Judge Rocanelli graciously agreed to share with readers of this blog include: (1) selected cases addressing the obligations of Delaware counsel in connection with pro hac vice admissions; (2) selected cases addressing misconduct by counsel admitted pro hac vice; (3) cases addressing misconduct by out of state counsel other than in litigation before the court. (Cases cited in the linked materials rejected efforts to revoke an admission pro hac vice based on misconduct alleged to have occurred in an unrelated case.)  

Also of increasing importance is a list of decisions involving lawyers from different offices of the same firm, at page four of the materials. This is a burgeoning problem, especially for younger lawyers in the Wilmington offices of larger firms based out of state.  These materials should be helpful to those lawyers by giving them a strong basis to push back on more senior lawyers who are not familiar with the higher standards–compared to most other states–of the pro hac vice rules in Delaware.

Other materials from Judge Rocanelli provide cases and commentary regarding pro hac vice admissions that divide the analysis into four parts: (1) the initial contact from a lawyer who wants to associate with Delaware counsel; (2) the terms of an agreement for the retention as Delaware counsel and the scope of the representation; (3) the details of the motion for admission pro hac vice; and (4) the details of working together and the obligations of both the Delaware lawyer moving the admission and opposing counsel.

Her Honor also provides a helpful list of “do’s and don’ts” for serving as Delaware counsel for non-Delaware lawyers.

As a gesture of gratitude for Her Honor allowing me to share her seminar materials on these pages, I am happy to offer a link to the current CV of Judge Rocanelli.

Postscript: Way back in 2008, I provided a link on this blog to some of the above seminar materials, with the authorization of Judge Rocanelli.  As sometimes happens in older blog posts, the link in that vintage post to those materials was no longer connecting to the material.  I recently contacted Judge Rocanelli who has graciously allowed me to publish again the above-linked materials.

Based on my experience in litigating cases in states outside of Delaware and my experience over the last 30-plus years working with lawyers from many states in the country, the standards that are expected of Delaware lawyers and that are imposed on lawyers admitted pro hac vice are typically much more stringent than in states outside of Delaware.

In some ways, publishing highlights of these high standards on this blog and in other articles I have written could be viewed as discouraging some potential non-Delaware lawyers from hiring me as their Delaware counsel because they could very easily find someone else who might not be as demanding or might not be as insistent on compliance with the spirit and letter of the Delaware standards, but that is an economic risk that I am willing to take.